Volkswagen ID.3 review

Category: Small Electric

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:electric
Available colours:
Volkswagen ID.3 2020 rear tracking
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  • Volkswagen ID.3 2020 infotainment
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  • Volkswagen ID.3 2020 front seats
  • Volkswagen ID.3 2020 boot open
RRP from£32,990
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

At present you can only order the 1st Edition, which has a 58kWh battery, a 201bhp motor and a range of 261miles – according to official WLTP figures. 0-62mph takes 7.3sec, matching the fastest Leaf but some way off the pace of the slowest Tesla Model 3. With typically instant electric-car surge, though, you won't find it lacking rapidity off the line. It's only as the speed rises beyond 60mph that the rate of acceleration tails off compared with the Model 3's, and there’s still plenty of poke to ensure that you're not out of your depth in the fast lane of the M1.

Joining the line-up at some stage will be the cheaper 48kWh battery with a 148bhp motor and a 205-mile range, a lower-powered 148bhp version with the 58kWh battery, and the top-spec 77kWh battery. That comes only with the 201bhp motor and will do up to 342 miles. So, most ID.3s will outstrip the battery range of a Nissan Leaf 62kWh on a single charge (239 miles), and be more than the equal of the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (254 miles).

Suspension and ride comfort

A big, heavy battery requires a stiff suspension set-up to support it, so don’t expect the ID.3 to offer Volkswagen Golf-levels of ride comfort. It’s far from harsh, polishing the pugnaciousness out of general furrows and folds at speed, but, around town particularly, it gets choppy over potholes and frequently fidgets on the motorway. 

That said, the small electric car class isn’t exactly stuffed full of rivals that ride better. The Model 3 Standard Range Plus is also quite agitated on these surfaces (although the more expensive Performance version is definitely better than the ID.3 in this regard), while the bouncy BMW i3 and jittery Leaf e+ 62kWh are even less settled than the ID.3. However, the Honda E, Nissan Leaf 40kWh and Peugeot e-208 all do a better job of smoothing out ruts and bumps.

Handling

With an excellent turning circle (10.2m is around the same as a Volkswagen Up) and light steering, manoeuvring the ID.3 around town is a breeze. Beyond the urban sprawl, the steering is accurate and sensibly geared, so it’s not a flighty car to thread along B-roads, but it doesn't give much finger-tingling communication or weight build-up when cornering in the default Comfort driving mode. Hit Sport mode and you get a bit of useful extra heft to the steering, though.

Grip is decent, and, for an everyday hatchback designed to get you from A to B with little drama, the ID.3 handles just fine, with more driver engagement than you’ll find in a Renault Zoe. It will twitch at the rear if you back off the accelerator abruptly mid corner or apply a bit too much power on the way out of a tight, damp bend, but, before you keen drivers start salivating like rabid dogs, a lighter, regular hatchback, like the latest Seat Leon, is still a far more thrilling experience.

Volkswagen ID.3 2020 rear tracking

Noise and vibration

Even by electric car standards the ID.3's motor and gearbox are ultra-mute, which is amazing around town but does mean you can hear everything else that's going on at speed. And the ID.3 generates a smattering of suspension and road noise, but it's wind noise – much of it whistling through the climate control vents – that is the most noticeable breach of the peace.

It does stop well, which is always good but not something every electric car can do. You see, electric cars harvest energy to top up their battery as you lift off the accelerator, recouping precious reserves that would ordinarily be wasted as heat generated by the brakes. But trying to integrate the motor’s braking effect with the normal braking system is a hard task, often leading to a snatchy brake pedal – the Renault Zoe being a case in point.

Not with the ID.3, though: it’s easy to make smooth stops as you squeeze the brake pedal. Or, if you want, you can turn up the regenerative braking enough to slow steadily just by lifting off the accelerator alone, but the effect isn't as powerful as the 'one pedal' driving that's possible with the Leaf and Model 3.

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